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Our pioneering Donor Advisory Board

Our innovative Donor Advisory Board allows you to include trusted advisers in your grant-making decisions without the hassle of setting up a charitable trust or foundation. 

Photo of Megan Wilcock Megan Wilcock
5 min

The inspiration to create our first Donor Advisory Board came from a couple who were looking to create a trust of their own.

This couple appreciated the flexibility of their Stewardship Donor Advised Fund account but wanted more support in approaching their grant making in a strategic and intentional way. A charitable trust facilitates this through its trustees but this traditional model is also bureaucratic and expensive to run and does not permit grants to be made anonymously.  To meet their needs, we took the opportunity to trial our Donor Advisory Board structure. It made such an impact that they wanted to ensure the experience could be shared by others who found themselves in a similar position.  

Collaboration with trusted advisers

The Donor Advisory Board structure allows clients to share the areas they are passionate about supporting with trusted advisers. Our team then researches opportunities in those areas and their funding needs, whether local, national or international. With this knowledge and understanding, the board can then decide where it will be optimal to place funding and request Stewardship to do so on their behalf. The board’s shared expertise results in intentional, strategic grant making that provides fundamental support for the recipients, for example by covering critical operational costs or delivering specific projects. 

We can arrange ongoing reporting and feedback on how the grants have been used and the impact made. A key benefit of having a Donor Advised Fund or Philanthropy Fund account is that all giving can be done anonymously, if preferred, while we can gain insight, provide reports and maintain a relationship with the recipient on the donor's behalf. 

A bespoke approach

We now have a number of Donor Advisory Boards up and running, each one unique; clients have chosen to have family members or trusted friends on their boards, alongside those with expertise in their profession, such as financial advisers, lawyers, charity executives and more. It can be a great opportunity for donors to bring their children along the journey for example, or to gain new understanding and expertise about how to best equip charities. 

Delivering this level of bespoke support for our donors may be time-intensive but it is also very rewarding; we see joy released and relationships strengthened through the process. 

More joy in the giving process

Giving large sums of money can be complex and time-consuming, but we believe it should also be enjoyable and fulfilling; a key focus of the initial trial was to help increase our clients' joy when it comes to giving. By helping to take away the time-intensive nature of administration, research and due diligence, the donors have more time to focus on relationships and impact. We have seen this give a new level of freedom to our clients, as well as a transformational impact for the recipients.

There are other tools that we use to help clients with their big picture thinking and strategic planning, such as creating a ‘giving picture’ that shows where their giving has gone annually. We can be as involved in the process as much or as little as the donors need. An important aspect for many of our clients is the shared foundation of our Christian values, which often impacts how the clients choose to give and what they choose to support. 

Freeing up time and space for our donors has allowed new capacity to ignite imagination, which in turn has created various ways of giving beyond simply making a one-off grant. This has included match-funded giving to facilitate growth in a partner's donor base, or funding strategic operational roles to boost growth and sustainability of the recipient.  

Our imagination has grown in terms of what we can do, now that we’re partnering with Stewardship. We love the board model and feel really safe learning from the team. 

Donor Advisory Board client

Other client benefits we have witnessed include reduced isolation in an often private and personal process, and a sense of sharing the s responsibility that comes with giving significant amounts away. Our donors also appreciate the flexibility that comes with giving with Stewardship, rather than with a charitable trust; the statement of purpose can be easily amended with fear of compromising charitable purposes. 

It has enabled us to give far more than we ever could have done without it.

Donor Advisory Board client.

Benefits for grant recipients too

Not only have the donors discovered new ways of doing things, but the charities and churches they give to have been impacted too. Their processes are being developed in real time as they learn more about how to engage with donors and present their needs. The research that we do on the charity's or church’s behalf has been created in a way that helps donors make well-informed decisions in their giving; yet more and more charities are thanking us for this research process, even if they don’t end up receiving a grant. This has been an unexpected bonus that we have uncovered through developing this process. 

It is a privilege to be able to offer such a unique and valuable service to our clients that we hope will have a hugely positive and far-reaching impact. 

Find out more about The Beacon Collaborative

This article was was first published by The Beacon Collaborative which was set up by philanthropists Matthew Bowcock and Cath Dovey in 2018, with the aim of inspiring more wealthy people to use their assets for the public good.

Visit The Beacon Collaborative

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Written by

Megan Wilcock

In her role as Relationship Manager, Megan works to engage, equip and support the next generation of philanthropists on their giving journey. Megan has been part of the Philanthropy Team since joining Stewardship in 2020, which has ignited her passion to see lives transformed through the power of generosity. She loves to be hospitable and uses this passion to create safe spaces for relationship and connections to flourish.

Megan lives in North West London with her husband Josh, where they attend a local church and lead a connect group together. Caring for God’s creation and bringing an end to modern day slavery are two areas that Megan is an ardent supporter of.